Healthcare the real test

AS part its 97th anniversary the ANC this weekend launched what could be called its election bible.

AS part its 97th anniversary the ANC this weekend launched what could be called its election bible.

In the main, the party's election manifesto calls for more interventionism to shore up a range of welfarist policies geared at the poor.

This was expected, given the noises the ruling party and its allies have been making about the need to improve service delivery and fight poverty and crime.

Noteworthy, too, is that the manifesto now talks about the creation of decent jobs rather than just jobs. The party now places emphasis on quality.

The manifesto also supports the creation of sustainable livelihoods, which not only promote a sense of dignity but also afford individuals a chance to become agents of change in their own lives.

This could go a long way to dealing with concerns about the problem of government grants creating a dependency syndrome among recipients.

But the real test for the ANC's manifesto lies in its commitment to improving public health services - an issue that has proved to be the party's Achilles heel in the past.

It is an indisputable fact that our public hospitals leave much to be desired. So the party's candid assessment of its own performance is commendable.

The manifesto also proposes the introduction of a national health insurance system, which is long overdue.

Given the disparities in incomes in this country, the system should go a long way to ensuring that the poor do receive quality healthcare.

It will be a worthwhile exercise though it will come at a huge price to taxpayers.

Of importance is that the system must create a situation in which access to quality healthcare is not determined by one's ability to pay.

This has been the bane of our health system in which the poor are provided with poor healthcare, while those who can afford it have access to one of the best health facilities in the world.

The challenge for the government will be to secure the support of health professionals and taxpayers for the idea.

This will most likely not come readily.